Thursday, December 5, 2013

India’s diversity is a challenge for marketers: Nielsen chief

Innovation
With a range of options available to consumers, the question is what makes them buy a particular brand.

Navigating consumers towards a specific brand is not all that easy. So what does it take to break through the ever changing, cluttered market place? In a chat with Business Line, Piyush Mathur, President, Nielsen India, says innovation is the key to success.

To encourage innovation there must be suitable rewards for innovators and the Government could even consider underwriting deserving innovative initiatives. Conversely, the risks for violations of intellectual property also need to be raised considerably.

Excerpts:

What is the greatest challenge in standing out in the Indian market?

The greatest challenge in India is that no particular region can be identified wholly as the Indian market. This diversity presents myriad challenges for marketers. What is considered trendy in some markets could well be perceived as downmarket in other regions.
It is imperative to understand these differences across geographies and tweak one’s products or services across regions.

Is pricing a major hurdle?
Yes and No. It all depends on the kind of products or services one is offering and the region and populace being targeted.
Luxury or premium products, for example, would not have a problem with pricing because that is precisely what makes these products sell. Such products are popular with niche sections due to personal aspirations wherein premium pricing is not a barrier – rather, it is the lure.
How can innovation help break free from the clutter?
Many a times, more than what companies do, how they do it makes them stand out amongst the crowd.
Moreover, innovative entities are looked upon as role models and even end up attracting the best brains from the marketplace.

Why don’t Indian companies top the charts when it comes to innovation?
By their very nature, innovations demand that the innovators possess deep pockets and be willing to go in for the long haul. Innovations don’t come about overnight. And for every innovative product that sees the light of day, there are 99 others which have failed. So perseverance and foresight are important in equal measure to ensure an innovation succeeds. There are no easy pickings or low-hanging fruits in innovation.

Have any innovations in India withstood the test of time?
Yes. The one-rupee sachet, which was introduced for some products, targeted at the bottom of the pyramid is a classic example. The low margins were more than made up by the volumes that helped FMCG marketers penetrate into hinterland markets.

Indians’ spending on FMCG products is very low compared with the global order. How can this be changed?

Well, we need to come up with more ‘one-rupee sachet’ ideas that help penetrate rural markets faster. Indian telecom companies did manage to crack this code to some extent and penetrate rural markets faster. Unfortunately, policy hurdles and other headwinds have eroded this advantage.

How can a climate of innovation be fostered in India?

The Indian Government has already declared 2010-2020 as the ‘Decade of Innovation’. It needs to follow this up with concrete action that sustains this pledge. For instance, there should be suitable rewards for innovators and the Government could even consider underwriting deserving innovative initiatives. Conversely, the risks for violations of intellectual property also need to be raised considerably. Intellectual property and patent protection should be given due respect for the ‘Decade’ to be successful.

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